Day 5 from the World Youth Teams Championships in Veldhoven, the Netherlands. Under 21 Coach Charlie Bucknell has written the below update following the team's progress:
The start of the final day of the Round Robin is always nerve wracking. England were well placed starting in the top 8 and we wanted to ensure it stayed that way. With Japan, Singapore and France to finish it was always going to be a tight set of matches! This board is taken from our final match against France. One game swing could very easily be the difference between qualifying or going into the consolation event, so the pressure the team faced was exceptionally high.
Andy opened 1♦ and then showed 18-19 balanced by bidding 2NT. Thomas is never one to shy away from bidding game so tried 3NT and prepared for whatever partner had (Axx clubs would have been nice!). West led a club to the Ace and Thomas realised that he was short a fair few tricks. He had 1 Spade, 1 Heart, 2 Diamonds and 2 Clubs (if he could get to hand). He hoped that the ♥Q might provide an entry and a trick and that the diamonds might break for an extra but that would only leave 8 – perhaps there was a future in hearts breaking 3-3 as well. To start, he played a low diamond from dummy at trick two, to keep the hand well hidden. East won the ♦J and exited a club to Thomas’ King. After crossing with a diamond to dummy, Thomas played a heart towards the closed hand, giving East a problem. If South held singleton ♥Q ducking the King of Hearts might well give away the 9th trick. Understandably, East rose with the King of Hearts and dropped their partner’s Jack! They exited with the ♠T to the ♠J, ♠K and ♠A. Now Thomas played a heart towards his hand, and determined that it was more likely that East would rise the King from 5 rather than 4 so played the Jack to be a singleton, taking the finesse with the Heart 9! Now we had 1 Spade, 3 Hearts, 3 Diamonds and 2 Clubs! At the other table, our boys defended excellently to hold 3NT to 8 tricks and win a much needed 12 IMPs! Well played Thomas.
I am delighted to report that at the end of play today, England rest in 8th place. Importantly the top 8 qualify for the knockout stages, so well done to our U21s for making it in a very tough field! Tomorrow the knockouts begin and we start by playing Israel which should be a good match!